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In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of its satellite regimes, Poland, among other nations, has been engaged in a process of wholesale national reinvention. An analysis of this reinvention is instructive for scholars of language because it is largely a rhetorical process. It is aimed at supplying a new set of collectively validated symbols, at (re)defining the basic terms of national debate, and at inventing a new language for describing--and thus also conceiving and implementing--new political institutions and processes. One of the main challenges facing leaders of the Solidarity movement was what to teach people: Solidarity represented a spiritual as well as a linguistic revolution. Solidarity leaders considered the original political program, not one of institutional change, but rather an educational program. It represented a mixed bag of demands and articulations, or half-articulations: sovereignty, democracy (understood as personal relations in the work place and worker's self-management), independent trade unions, the Katyn massacre (a code word for admitting that Poland was under Soviet domination). According to Lech Walesa, the goal was to build a "Noah's Ark" of popularly accepted terms free from the straightjacket of official sloganeering. The desire for "truth" in the wake of intellectual oppression explains why much that is debated in Poland strikes Westerners as impractical or abstract. Some basic concepts that continue to be under contestation in Poland would include ownership, democracy, and sovereignty. (TB)

Descriptors: Educational Objectives, Foreign Countries, Freedom of Speech, Language Role, Political Issues, Political Power, Rhetoric, Rhetorical Criticism, Rhetorical Invention

Autor: Ornatowski, Cezar M.


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